Government minister suggests people who work from home are ‘watching television’ and people are outraged

A government minister has suggested people who work from home may actually be watching TV and it has gone down about as well as you’d expect.

The Daily Mail reports that an unnamed minister suggested civil servants who are reluctant to return to their offices should be paid less than people who schlep in because they are saving money by not commuting.

But the most egregious part of the article to readers was as follows: “The minister said people should be ‘keen to get back to normal’, adding that it was difficult to know whether someone at home was working or watching television.”

“‘I think people who want to get on in life will go into the office because that’s how people are going to succeed,’ they said.”


Reacting to the article, people who have been working tirelessly from home for the last year and a half were angry and took to Twitter to confirm that the minister’s take was completely misguided:

Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it had been “really beneficial” working in an office environment early in his career and doubted whether he would have been able to build “strong relationships” with mentors over Teams or Zoom.

“That’s why I think for young people in particular being able to physically be in an office is valuable,” he added.

But Layla Moran, chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus, said there was “mixed messaging from the Government at a time when the public and businesses need clarity”.

“Ministers shouldn’t be urging people back to the office at a time when cases remain high and against the Government’s own workplace safety guidance,” she said.

And Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA civil service union, said: “These insulting comments from ministers and politicians only demonstrate that they are out of touch with modern working practices.

“Across the economy – in both the private and public sectors – employers are embracing hybrid working, which provides greater work-life balance for employees and reduced office costs for employers.

He added: “As the last 18 months has demonstrated, there are many tasks that can be done just as effectively whilst working remotely.

“What should matter to ministers is whether public services are being delivered effectively, not where individual civil servants are sitting on a particular day.”

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